Android Ecosystem Faces Growing Banking Malware Threat

It is not surprising to learn the number of financial phishing and malware attacks has gone up throughout 2016. Last year was a top year for cyber criminals and it is believed 2017 will see more of the same. According to Kaspersky Labs, mainly Android users were targeted during the 2016 malware and phishing attacks, which is rather surprising.

Banking Malware On Android Devices

It is true a lot of consumers rely on mobile devices to check up on finances or complete payments. This also creates new opportunities for cybercriminals looking to take advantage of this situation. Particularly the Android ecosystem is of great interest to hackers, as it is the most popular mobile operating system in the world today. Unfortunately, it is not all that secure either in some cases.

Throughout 2016, cybercrime gangs have been targeting Android users with both banking malware and phishing campaigns. It is the first time such a high amount of financial phishing has been recorded by security researchers. Kaspersky Labs also mentioned how phishers are becoming more professional, which increases their chances of tricking victims into giving up sensitive financial information.

Additionally, the number of Android users attacked by banking malware surpassed the 1 million mark. Considering how this trend had grown less popular throughout 2014 and 2015, security researchers were hopeful this attack vector would not increase in popularity again. That is anything but the case, by the look of things, as a 30.6% increase in recorded attacks does not bode all that well. Interestingly enough, less than one in five banking malware attacks were directed at corporate users.

It is evident cyber criminals are targeting the average consumer, rather than going after high-value targets. Whether this is due to corporate clients having better computer security, remains anybody’s guess. The evidence indicates average consumers are more prone to get infected with the banking malware once distributed. A lot of smaller targets will eventually result in larger financial gains for the criminals, which remains their ultimate objective. Most victims were located in Russia, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States.

In terms of which banking malware is distributed exactly, it would appear Zbot remains the most popular tool among crime gangs. Nearly half of all attacked users received a Zbot banking malware strain, making it the clear fan favorite for the time being. The second most common banking malware strain is the Gozi family, which represents over 17% of all attacks recorded in 2016.

Kaspersky Lab researchers also discovered a worrisome trend Android users need to take note of. The number of banking malware attacks increased exponentially during the second half of 2016. It is unclear if this trend has continued throughout the first month and a half of 2017, albeit it seems likely to assume that is the case. Primarily Russian Android users are becoming a very popular target right now, thanks to the Asacub and Svpeng malware families.

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